Chamberlain et al. v. Board of Education of School District No. 36 (Surrey), 2002 SCC 86

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateDecember 20, 2002
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations2002 SCC 86;(2002), 175 B.C.A.C. 161 (SCC)

Chamberlain v. Surrey School Bd. (2002), 175 B.C.A.C. 161 (SCC);

    289 W.A.C. 161

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Temp. Cite: [2002] B.C.A.C. TBEd. DE.008

James Chamberlain, Murray Warren, Diane Willcott, Blaine Cook, by his Guardian Ad Litem, Sue Cook, and Rosamund Elwin (appellants) v. Board of Trustees of School District No. 36 (Surrey) (respondent) and EGALE Canada Inc., British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Families in Partnership, Board of Trustees of School District No. 34 (Abbotsford), Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Archdiocese of Vancouver, Catholic Civil Rights League and Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association (intervenors)

(28654; 2002 SCC 86; 2002 CSC 86)

Indexed As: Chamberlain et al. v. Board of Education of School District No. 36 (Surrey)

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.

December 20, 2002.

Summary:

A school board passed a resolution refus­ing to approve three books as a supplemen­tary learning resource for kindergarten and Grade 1 classroom instruction on the ground that the books depicted families with same-sex parents. The petitioners applied under the Judicial Review Procedure Act to quash the resolution on the ground that the board acted outside its mandate under the School Act.

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a judgment reported [1998] B.C.T.C. Uned. H68, allowed the petition and quashed the resolution. The school board appealed. The petitioners cross-appealed, seeking a manda­tory injunction directing the board to approve the three books as recommended learning resources.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in a judgment reported (2000), 143 B.C.A.C. 162; 235 W.A.C. 162, allowed the board's appeal and dismissed the petitioners' cross-appeal. The petitioners appealed on the ground that (1) the board acted outside its statutory mandate and (2) the resolution violated the Charter.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Gonthier and Bastarache, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal. The standard of review was reason­ableness. The board acted outside its statu­tory mandate by failing to apply the School Act's secular criteria and the board's own regulation for approval of supplementary material. Accordingly, the board's decision was unreasonable and was remitted for redetermination applying the proper criteria.

Administrative Law - Topic 3202

Judicial review - General - Scope or stan­dard of review - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "it is now settled that all judicial review of administrative decisions should be premised on a standard of review arrived at through consideration of the factors stipulated by the functional and pragmatic approach. This is essential to ensure that the reviewing court accords the proper degree of deference to the decision-making body. ... The pragmatic and func­tional approach ... allows for three stan­dards of review: correctness, patent unrea­sonableness and an intermediate standard of reasonableness. The standard of 'cor­rect­ness' involves minimal deference: where it applies there is only one right answer and the administrative body's decision must reflect it. 'Patent unreason­ableness', the most deferential standard, permits the decision to stand unless it suffers from a defect that is immediately apparent or is so obvious that it 'demands intervention by the court upon review' ... The intermediate standard of 'reasonable­ness' allows for somewhat more deference: the decision will not be set aside unless it is based on an error or is 'not supported by any rea­sons that can stand up to a some­what probing examination'. ... Which of the three standards is appropriate in a given case depends on the amount of discretion the legislature conferred on the delegate. The relevant amount of discretion is evi­denced by four factors, which often over­lap: (1) whether the legislation con­tains a privative clause; (2) the delegate's relative expertise; (3) the purpose of the particular provision and the legislation as a whole; and (4) the nature of the prob­lem." - See paragraphs 4 to 7.

Administrative Law - Topic 3221

Judicial review - General - Unreasonable­ness of decision attacked (incl. reasonable­ness simpliciter) - At issue was the appro­priate standard of review respecting a school board resolution refusing to approve three books for classroom instruction because the books depicted families with same-sex parents - The Supreme Court of Canada, after considering the lack of a privative clause, the board's relative ex­pertise, the purpose of the School Act provision and the Act as a whole and the nature of the problem, held that the stan­dard of review was "reasonableness", not patent unreasonableness - See paragraphs 8 to 14.

Administrative Law - Topic 9102

Boards and tribunals - Judicial review - Standard of review - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3202 ].

Education - Topic 657

Education authorities - School commis­sions or boards - Powers re courses and instruction - Books, learning resources, etc. - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3221 ].

Education - Topic 657

Education authorities - School commis­sions or boards - Powers re courses and instruction - Books, learning resources, etc. - A school board passed a resolution refus­ing to approve three books as supplemen­tary learning resources for kindergarten and Grade 1 classroom instruction on the ground that the books depicted families with same-sex parents - Underlying the decision was the moral and religious con­cerns of some parents and the board with the morality of homosexual relationships - The Supreme Court of Canada set aside the resolution as unreasonable - Although the requirement in s. 76 of the School Act that the board's decision be strictly secular did not preclude consideration of religious concerns, all members of the community (including same-sex families) were entitled to equal recognition and respect - The board acted outside its statutory mandate by failing to apply the School Act's secu­lar criteria and the board's own regulation for approval of supplementary material - The board's decision was unreasonable and was remanded for reconsideration "accord­ing to the criteria laid out in the Board's own regulation, the curriculum guidelines and the broad principles of tolerance and non-secretarianism underlying the School Act" - See paragraphs 17 to 73.

Cases Noticed:

Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 963 v. New Brunswick Liquor Corp., [1979] 2 S.C.R. 227; 26 N.R. 341; 25 N.B.R.(2d) 237; 51 A.P.R. 237, refd to. [para. 6].

Director of Investigation and Research, Competition Act v. Southam Inc. et al., [1997] 1 S.C.R. 748; 209 N.R. 20, refd to. [para. 6].

Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817; 243 N.R. 22, refd to. [para. 6].

Pezim v. British Columbia Securities Com­mission et al., [1994] 2 S.C.R. 557; 168 N.R. 321; 46 B.C.A.C. 1; 75 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 7].

Pushpanathan v. Canada (Minister of Citi­zenship and Immigration), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 982; 226 N.R. 201, refd to. [para. 7].

Nanaimo (City) v. Rascal Trucking Ltd., [2000] 1 S.C.R. 342; 251 N.R. 42; 132 B.C.A.C. 298; 215 W.A.C. 298, refd to. [para. 10].

Attis v. Board of Education of School District No. 15 et al., [1996] 1 S.C.R. 825; 195 N.R. 81; 171 N.B.R.(2d) 321; 437 A.P.R. 321, refd to. [para. 11].

Ross v. Board of Education of School District No. 15 et al. - see Attis v. Board of Education of School District No. 15 et al.

Trinity Western University v. College of Teachers (B.C.) et al., [2001] 1 S.C.R. 772; 269 N.R. 1; 151 B.C.A.C. 161; 249 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 11].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 554; 149 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 11].

Sheena B., Re, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315; 176 N.R. 161; 78 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 102].

R.B. v. Children's Aid Society of Metro­politan Toronto - see Sheena B., Re.

Young v. Young et al., [1993] 4 S.C.R. 3; 160 N.R. 1; 34 B.C.A.C. 161; 56 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 103].

D.P. v. C.S., [1993] 4 S.C.R. 141; 159 N.R. 241; 58 Q.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 103].

R. v. Jones, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 284; 69 N.R. 241; 73 A.R. 133, refd to. [para. 107].

Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), 262 U.S. 390, refd to. [para. 110].

Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), 268 U.S. 510, refd to. [para. 110].

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), 406 U.S. 205, refd to. [para. 110].

Prince v. Massachusetts (1944), 321 U.S. 158, refd to. [para. 110].

R. v. Audet (Y.), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 171; 197 N.R. 172; 175 N.B.R.(2d) 81; 446 A.P.R. 81, refd to. [para. 111].

R. v. Forde, [1992] O.J. No. 1698 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 111].

Adler et al. v. Ontario et al., [1996] 3 S.C.R. 609; 204 N.R. 81; 95 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 111].

McKinney v. University of Guelph, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 229; 118 N.R. 1; 45 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 121].

Douglas/Kwantlen Faculty Association v. Douglas College, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 570; 118 N.R. 340, refd to. [para. 121].

Godbout v. Longeuil (Ville), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844; 219 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 121].

Thorson v. Canada (Attorney General), [1975] 1 S.C.R. 138; 1 N.R. 225, refd to. [para. 123].

McNeil v. Nova Scotia Board of Censors, [1976] 2 S.C.R. 265; 5 N.R. 43; 12 N.S.R.(2d) 85; 6 A.P.R. 85, refd to. [para. 123].

Borowski v. Canada (Minister of Justice), [1981] 2 S.C.R. 575; 39 N.R. 331, refd to. [para. 123].

Law v. Minister of Employment and Im­migration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 124].

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. Dagenais et al., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835; 175 N.R. 1; 76 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 126].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237, refd to. [para. 132].

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161, refd to. [para. 135].

Egan and Nesbitt v. Canada, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513; 182 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 140].

Shell Canada Products Ltd. v. Vancouver (City), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 231; 163 N.R. 81; 41 B.C.A.C. 81; 66 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 191].

114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, Société d'arrosage) et al. v. Hudson (Town), [2001] 2 S.C.R. 241; 271 N.R. 201, refd to. [para. 191].

Public School Boards Association (Alta.) et al. v. Alberta (Attorney General) et al., [2000] 2 S.C.R. 409; 260 N.R. 127; 266 A.R. 201; 228 W.A.C. 201, refd to. [para. 196].

R. v. Sharma (D.), [1993] 1 S.C.R. 650; 149 N.R. 161; 61 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 197].

Reference Re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court (P.E.I.), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 3; 217 N.R. 1; 206 A.R. 1; 121 Man.R.(2d) 1; 156 W.A.C. 1; 156 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1; 483 A.P.R. 1, refd to. [para. 205].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1, sect. 2, sect. 15 [para. 80].

Ministerial Educational Program Guide Order, M143/89, sect. 1 [para. 80].

Ministerial Educational Program Guide Order, M165/93, sect. 3 [para. 80].

School Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 412, pre­amble [paras. 22, 80]; sect. 65, sect. 76, sect. 85, sect. 168 [para. 80].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Benson, Iain T., Notes Towards a (Re)Def­i­nition of the "Secular" (2000), 33 U.B.C. Law Rev. 519, generally [para. 136].

British Columbia, Ministry of Education, Evaluating, Selecting, and Managing Learning Resources: A Guide (1996), generally [para. 37].

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (looseleaf update 2002), vol. 2, pp. 56 to 59 [para. 123].

Counsel:

Catherine J. Parker, and Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C., for the appellants;

John G. Dives and Kevin L. Boonstra, for the respondent;

Cynthia Petersen and Kenneth W. Smith, for the intervenor, EGALE Canada Inc.;

Chris W. Sanderson, Q.C., and Keith B. Bergner, for the intevenor, British Col­umbia Civil Liberties Association;

David A. Wright and Susan Ursel, for the intervenor, Families in Partnership;

Daniel R. Bennett and Paul A. Craven, for the intervenor, Board of Trustees of School District No. 34 (Abbotsford);

Andrew K. Lokan and Stephen L. McCam­mon, for the intervenor, Canadian Civil Liberties Association;

Cindy Silver and D. Geoffrey Cowper, Q.C., for the intervenors, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League and Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association;

Howard Goldblatt (written submission only), for the intervenor, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.

Solicitors of Record:

Arvay Finlay, Victoria, B.C., for the appel­lants;

Dives, Grauer & Harper, Vancouver, B.C., for the respondent;

Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, EGALE Canada Inc.;

Lawson, Lundell, Vancouver, B.C., for the intevenor, British Columbia Civil Lib­erties Association;

Green & Chercover, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, Families in Partnership;

Bull, Housser & Tupper, Vancouver, B.C., for the intervenor, Board of Trustees of School District No. 34 (Abbotsford);

Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario;

Paliare, Roland, Rosenberg, Rothstein, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association;

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, Vancouver, B.C., for the intervenors, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League and Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association.

This appeal was heard on June 12, 2002, before McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On December 20, 2002, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

McLachlin, C.J.C. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Iacobucci, Major, Binnie and Arbour, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 74;

Gonthier, J. (Bastarache, J., concurring), dissenting - see paragraphs 75 to 187;

LeBel, J. - see paragraphs 188 to 215.

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